Colton Underwood Gets Dragged For Monetizing ‘Coming Out’

L: The Bachelor Press / R: Gus Kenworthy – Instagram

I have been a champion of those who decide to live in their truth regarding their sexuality throughout my life. The decision to “come out” is no one-size-fits-all undertaking, and there are many factors people consider before doing so. The constructs of home, family, religion, morality, education, and employment are all things that can be significantly interrupted if a person who is secretly gay is outed in an unsupportive community. 

That said, coming out is no easy choice, though, for some, it provides the exhale they’ve waited their whole lives to take. For others, it can be traumatic. Despite the many progressive advances in LGBTQ tolerance, acceptance, and even the passing of marriage equality, many in the LGBTQ community still grapple with their identity, fearing societal rejection. In facing such hurdles, bouts of substance abuse, depression, and even suicide attempts can become pervasive.

Keeping all that in mind, I have to be honest about my annoyance with this week’s big media blitz, chronicling the coming out of former star of The Bachelor, Colton Underwood. Judging by many reactions I’ve read on social media, I am not alone in this assessment:

As I stated at the start of this post, I support people coming out and finding their footing as they embrace their truth. I am sympathetic to it as I reflect on my moment of truth when at 23 years old, I sat my mother down and had that highly complex conversation.  

However, when it comes to Underwood’s coming out, it invokes a visceral reaction of recoiling. Maybe it’s because he chose to come out with so much organized fanfare; it all feels like more of a PR campaign or publicity stunt than a genuine, life-affirming admission.

Add to that Underwood’s rounds of interviews on daytime talk shows, prime time special on Nightline, various press junkets, topped off with a simultaneous announcement of a new gay-sploitation Netflix docu-series already in production; co-starring Gus Kenworthy. The show is called “The Gay Guide” and will center around Kenworthy serving as Colton’s gay mentor teaching him how to adjust to being gay. Seriously? 

Underwood’s coming out seems to be designed more for exploitation, ratings, and clicks than personal growth and self-awareness. Again, I was not the only one to notice as evident by the following  celebrity tweets:

 

Of course, Colton will undoubtedly have his fair share of gay men swooning over him and following him all over social media and waiting for the inevitable “leaked” dick pick (you know it’s coming). They either don’t know, won’t care, or are willing to overlook the claims of stalking and abuse from Underwood’s former girlfriend, Cassie Randolph. Cassie, who Underwood gave the final rose on The Bachelor, ultimately took out a restraining order against him for stalking and allegedly, even at one point, she accused him of planting a tracking device on her car.

Now, as Underwood seemingly plays the “gay” card to rebrand himself on his reality show as a hot new gay boy — single and ready to mingle, thank goodness some people in the press have asked him to address the stalking allegations. Underwood admits to the bad behavior for which Cassie has accused him, but he blames his struggles on the mental anguish of hiding his sexuality. Cassie reportedly later dropped the charges.

Internal sexual identity conflicts can manifest into dark psychology, but now Underwood claims to be free of those demons. So, where’s Cassie’s apology? She should have been among the first people he called on his “Coming Out” tour. But he admitted to PageSix that he has yet to reach out to her since making his public declaration about being gay. That gives me further pause when considering his character.

I fear that Underwood and Kenworthy will misrepresent the serious nature of coming out, reducing it to a gentrified, trivialized pop culture TV show. I am concerned that the Netflix show might be perceived as a mockery by mainstream America with reinforced stereotypes of pretty blond boys running around LA shirtless. Granted, yes, some gay men might relate to that. However, for millions of us in the LGBTQ community, our gay lives include acts of vigilance for visibility, equality, proper health care, employment, dignity, and expressly standing by our transgender sisters being assaulted and killed out on these streets.

The backlash against Netflix calls out the network for exploiting the LGBTQ coming out experience as entertainment. They’ve been barraged with a series of outspoken tweets of opposition, like this one: 

For most of us, coming out and being gay is an existence of strength and perseverance, even sacrifice. There were no Netflix deals for Mathew Sheppard or Brandon Tina — both murdered in hate crimes. There was no Robin Roberts interview for college student Tyler Clementi who killed himself after his college roommate secretly broadcast him live, having sex with another man in their dorm. There are no Nightline interviews for gay men who are at greater risk of suicide attempts before age 25 — a rate alarmingly higher than their heterosexual male counterparts.

Listen, I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer here and rain on Colton’s Gay Pride Parade. Still, something about the monetization of his coming out is troublesome and reminiscent of Bruce Jenner’s transition to becoming Kaitlyn. That moment seemed far more focused on sensationalizing her as an extension of the Kardashian harem than a person interested in connecting to the plight of the trans community. Let’s also not forget Kaitlyn voted for Trump after transitioning, despite Trump clearly being the most transphobic president in our nation’s history.

Keeping the Kaitlyn travesty in mind, I’m skeptical about celebrities coming out in a blast of Hollywood press and hoopla. What I have seen from Underwood in the past 48 hours feels more like he’s about to join Andy Cohen’s empire in a Housewives spin-off. As Rob Shuter stated, “It feels like they are trying to sell us something?” Yes, I agree with Rob — it does.

Of course, life is to be enjoyed, and being young, free, and openly gay is fun, especially when you control your own narrative. As a fair person, I am willing to give Ken and Colton’s new show the benefit of the doubt. Yes, Colton should live life to the fullest in his newfound truth, but not absent of understanding the pain of the past and the groundbreaking work of LGBTQ heroes who made his liberation possible today.

If Ken Gusworthy wants to be a real gay guide for Colton, I suggest he start with a lesson in LGBTQ history.


Naughty But Nice With Rob Shuter & Friday Co-Host Corey Andrew

Listen to Rob Shuter & Corey Andrew discuss Colton’s coming out on the “Naughty But Nice With Rob” Podcast:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This piece is an opinion piece by one Contributing Writer for Instinct Magazine and may not reflect the opinion of the magazine or other Contributing Writers.

30 thoughts on “Colton Underwood Gets Dragged For Monetizing ‘Coming Out’”

  1. Colton is like every other bachelor contestant. Milk it fir what it’s worth, anything for fame. I didn’t buy his “sad” story. Hes had it rough, poor boy. Yet, not rough enough to lie to millions. Anything for $$$. Gay rights? That’s the last thing on his mind.

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  2. Everyone has a different story and a different path to coming out. This guy was so closeted that he went on TV shows to find a girlfriend/wife. He wanted to try and live this lie because of society and religion. All the women he dated and pursued (and harassed) deserve an apology. But him coming out explains the behavior. I dated women when I was younger, I lied to so many people. This guy who has been in the spotlight for a few years now, as a “straight” man, coming out, shines a light on the problem so many men grapple with about coming out. I give the guy a lot of credit for finally coming to terms with it. And I don’t have a single problem with him getting a show from it. A high profile gay man, with another gay man, leading a show about coming out, how it affects men and what happens when you come out? Why wouldn’t we want America to see that struggle? Yes, it’s different than a non-celebrity’s story but doing this same show with an unknown would not get nearly as much attention. The gay community should embrace him, welcome him in. There is room for everyone.

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  3. This is a lazy mess of an article, written by someone who is apparently a professional victim and not a professional journalist. It is OK for white people to do things, it is OK for white people to come out, it is OK for masculine men to be….. masculine and like sports! There seems a lot of self absorption and jealousy peppered throughout this article. Just because this guy is a handsome D-bag, and a good athlete for a little while and then managed to make that work out for him by good getting ratings on reality TV, does not mean every gay who is not like him needs to hate him. All of our coming out is different, and it has been different stories that have brought the community together, let’s not hate each other because of it!

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  4. You are gonna be fine. Coming out will one day be unnecessary. It will become a boring story. Coming out is difficult for every gay/bi/lesbian. Relationships come and go. Your past can be part of your new story. Welcome to the gay world. I know one day you will have relief, have many gay and straight friends, and live your life. Good job is what I say.

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  5. It is ludicrous to continue to peddle this “trans are being killed in the streets” garbage.
    It’s like saying cops are hunting black men, another laughably false narrative. The vast majority of these incidents involve trans individuals who have gotten themselves caught up in violence related to drug trafficking and/or prostitution. These are not hate crimes.

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  6. Very preachy!

    Frankly, it should be supported that we have come around to a place where gay men can come out with a fanfare. Is monetizing a personal story great? No, not really. But, it sure as hell indicates a society where sexuality is not being demonized.

    Also, not every coming out has to be hard and tragic. I smell a lot of jealousy against a pretty white boy who many see it as having it easy. I mean — he probably does. But that doesn’t give you the moral high-ground either.

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    • First, I clearly state in the article that coming out is not difficult nor traumatic for everyone but for some it is. I’m not sure why you are debating a point I never made.

      Second, as a proud, accomplished African American man, I am jealous of no white man, or any man for that matter.

      Perhaps you are projecting.

      Cheers!

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    • It shouldn’t have to be fanfare. And yes, people who haven’t stalked and planted tracking devices on people do have a moral high ground. The critical thinking on this one…. Non-existent

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  7. Girlfriend, you’re are spending way too much time writing something where you make an awful lot of it about yourself – even down to plugging your own little podcast (or appearance on your gaypal’s podcast, as the case maybe). You suffer from the same delusions the ‘opinion writers’ on sites like HuffPo and The Advocate share – that keyboard + opinion and access to the interwebz makes moi a ‘writer.’ At least get facts straight, especially if your going to selectively screen cap tweets – this guy got a restraining order against him from the same woman in whose family home they willingly had him quarantine with when he came down with COVID last spring (five seconds on a browser search, even just looking at the recent reporting in actual newspapers will bring that up) – so yes, there’s a tale there – and frankly, I don’t really care one way or another – but if you’re going to write about or let someone else refer to it in one of three screen capped tweet, then EFFING do your one goddess damned job and get facts out there. That makes it ONE WOMAN – one who in the past had a trusting enough relationship to have this guy in her home with HER FAMILY, not WOMEN – who this guy is, per your shared tweet – PLURAL he is “harass[ing]” and “stalk[ing]” as “props” on his way to his NF thing.

    Do I think he deserves a NF show? Nope. But I don’t think the Queer Eye guys deserve one either, or Andy Cohen, any Bravo “personality” or the several other hundred crappy, trashy reality shows that @kary5 and probably multiple others watch and enjoy on the daily.

    Another perfect example of what a shitty job you’re doing here, miss thang, is that for your Adam Lambert quote you could have used a screen cap tweet from Dan Levy or Billy Eichner. The point is, just because you want to blow air up your ass pipes and make yourself self-impotent (and yes, that was intentional) – or the exact same shit you’re accusing Missy Colton here of, but you’re using Instinct’s bandwidth for that and calling yourself a “writer” – don’t waste space trying to find ‘facts’ that support your stupidity with these screen caps unless you’re going to really be representative of what’s out there.

    I’m not defending this guy, or Gus. I am asking that if Instinct is going to waste the proverbial ink and paper on crap like this, they just have the expectation that the ‘writers’ will actually do the work and report on this with accuracy. If it wasn’t this opinion nonsense disguised as a “story” about coming out or backlash in social media, it would be something else.

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  8. I hear the skepticism about the monetization but I have to say, as a gay kid struggling to find my place in the world, had there been this much media coverage of ANYONE LGBTQ2+, especially about how hard their coming out was, it would have made all the difference in the world. So I’m choosing the path of empathy for what Colton went through and all that he continues to face, including all the scrutiny now around his motives.

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    • It shouldn’t have to be fanfare. And yes, people who haven’t stalked and planted tracking devices on people do have a moral high ground. The critical thinking on this one…. Non-existent

      Reply
  9. Couldn’t make it as a straight man, so now he’s going to be gay. Sad what he’ll do to stay in the spotlight and make a buck.

    Reply

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